Harmony Act IV: Lust

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Scene X: Fly Away Tonight

Kanagawa, Yuugen. Japan. 2005, July

Neko hurried down the halls as fast she could. Her violet hair battered her flushed cheeks and heavy pants of breath left her rosy lips with every turn and step she took. She had no time to knock and flew inside The Chairman’s bedroom.

“Yokubo-sama!” She yelled, struggling for air as she finally paused for breath. “Come quick! It’s your son!”

Not a second went by before Yokubo leapt from his bed and pulled his trousers on; had the news been about anyone else other than Chini, he probably would have stayed in bed. Neko could only swallow and stare; she had never seen Yokubo look so startled.

“What happened? Where is he?”

“We don’t know what’s happened, sir.” Neko inhaled, steadying her burning lungs. “He’s in the infirmary. He won’t wake up it’s like… well, almost as if he’s been poisoned-”

Yokubo pushed her aside before Neko could finish. She stumbled, resting a hand to her chest as her fatigue died. The creaking of the bed caused her attention to wander and she watched a young man slowly sit up from the messy sheets. She could only roll her eyes and make one stark comment before running down the corridor after The Chairman.

“You’re fired.”

Yokubo waded his way through the gathering crowd outside the infirmary. Neko was at his heels by now, urging the crowd away. She slammed the door on their prying eyes and stood guard as Yokubo made his way over to where Chini lay with Yujin close beside him.

“What happened?”

Yujin shook his head, expression stiff. “He came in late last night, drunk. Someone had attacked him, beaten him up and cracked a rib. I did all I could to repair the damage. He was fine when he went to sleep, he just… never woke this morning. He’s unconscious.”

Yokubo had only listened to half of Yujin’s explanation. He could not concentrate hard enough to watch Chini’s chest rising and listen to the nurse. He bent his knees, hands cupping his son’s bruised knuckles.

“When will he wake up?” Yokubo whispered.

“I don’t know.” Yujin turned away. “It’s impossible to say, especially if I don’t know what’s caused it in the first place.”

Neko’s eyes were sharp. She had begun her survey of the area since she stepped inside and could see the smearing of blood on the floor, the tied bag with Chini’s ripped clothes. The needle peeking from the sharp’s bin from last night’s sutures and the empty bottle of alcohol beside Chini’s bed. Everything matched Yujin’s story – everything but the shining clue under the desk.

“There.” Neko nodded past Yujin’s leg. “What’s that?”

Yujin followed the girl’s eyes and bent down. Thin fingers hooked around the glass vial and he held it above his head, examining it in the light. It glinted, bright enough for Neko and The Chairman to look away.

“It’s nothing like the kind I use here.” Yujin noted, holding it out.

“I trust that it wasn’t you,” Yokubo snatched the tiny vial from the man, turning it over with his long fingers. “But where did it come from if not here?”

“I know where it came from, sir.” Neko stood at Yokubo’s side and held out her palm. Once The Chairman handed over the vial, she scanned it quickly to confirm her suspicions before turning on her heel. “Let’s pay the lab a visit.”

Senbo’s eyes flickered from his desk before the footsteps came. He watched Yoku standing by the door as she hung up her scarf and pulled on her lab coat as the door swung open, straining against its hinges as it knocked the woman’s elbow. She was more than a little pissed when her brother stormed inside, wearing nothing but a pair of trousers. Yoku would have asked why he had dropped by if not for the fury in his eyes. Clearly this was not a social call.

“You!” Yokubo barked, jabbing a finger through the air towards Senbo. He reached over the desk, grabbed the man’s collar, and pulled him off his stool. “How could you do that to my son?!”

Senbo grit his teeth as he was hauled across the desk. His flailing legs knocked over his samples and microscope. He braced himself as Yokubo moved, slamming him against the nearest wall, momentarily knocking the air from his lungs.

“What is the meaning of this?” Yoku snipped, rounding one of the tables near her brother.

Neko appeared, holding up the vial from the infirmary. “This came from the lab, did it not?” She inquired, waiting patiently for a reply as Yokubo kept screaming.

“Yes,” Yoku wrinkled her nose as she plucked the glass tube from Neko’s palm. She held it to the light and nodded. “It’s identical to the ones we use for testing samples. But this hardly explains why you decided to come in here and throw my assistant around.”

Yokubo gave a cry of frustration, hiking Senbo higher in the air. “He poisoned Chini with whatever was in that vial!”

Senbo struggled, keeping his chin up. “What? No, no! That’s not it-! I-” He faltered, desperate to touch the ground with the toes of his shoes.

“Don’t give me any fucking excuses! You’re the one who makes the specimens down here! You’re the one that makes poison! You were jealous of my son’s position, weren’t you? You want to run the academy when I’m dead! I bet you had a master plan to take me out while I was sleeping after you were finished with Chini, am I right?!” Slamming Senbo against the wall a second time, he swiftly raised a hand from his shirt to pull back a balled fist.

Seeing the punch coming, Senbo’s eyes widened. With a blink, he vanished; materialising out of thin air as the edge of his face and body began to evaporate into black smoke and he disappeared altogether in a flicker, similar to static on a broken television screen. It caused Yokubo to falter, suddenly finding his hand empty and his fist colliding with the wall where Senbo had been. His knuckles cracked against the brick and a low growl came from his throat. He whirled on his heel, finding Senbo standing beside Yoku.

“You recall Senbo’s extraordinary connection to the Void of Chaos, yes? When threatened, he has the ability to shift his body through space so long as his stamina allows him to. Honestly, trying to keep him in one spot is rather pointless.” Yoku tutted, sliding her hands into the pockets of her lab coat. “Now, let us try this again in a civil manner, shall we? Dear brother, why are you trying to bash poor Senbo’s skull in?”

Yokubo’s breathing had calmed, as if breaking his hand was all he needed to regain his composure. He cradled the bruising fist to his chest and sighed, slumping against one of the stools nearby. “Chini. He’s unconscious. We found one of your specimen vials in the infirmary and Yujin doesn’t use those kinds, only Senbo does. What more is there to even say?”

“How can you be certain that Yujin is telling the truth?” Yoku offered.

“It wasn’t Yujin.” Senbo spoke up. “It was Chikai.”

Yoku’s brows rose and she slowly pivoted on her heel to meet the man’s face. “I beg your pardon?”

Senbo could have rolled his eyes, but he knew better. “Look, Chikai came here last night looking for something you left behind. He said you told him to stop by and when he left, one of my vials were missing!”

“I never saw Chikai last night.” Yoku replied simply, eyeing the man up and down. “You must be mistaken.”

“I’m not! He said so himself! I even got on the floor and found one of your damn earrings!”

“Then why wait until now to mention the missing vial? If you knew one was gone, you should have informed me right away.”

“I-I… Well, I couldn’t be sure, but now that this has happened? Yeah, I’m sure as shit.” Senbo snapped.

Yoku reluctantly turned away, cursing under her breath. She moved with uncertainty, retiring to her desk with a look of disappointment. Her relationship with Chikai was surely tearing at the seam and if Yoku was speechless, then the issue was already settled.

Senbo turned back to Yokubo. “I can make an antidote if you just give me some time. I promise he’ll be fine.”

Yokubo walked up to Senbo. “Fine, just get it done and fast. I’ll find out where Chikai is. Come, Neko.” He walked away, practically dragging his feet from shame.

He could not force himself to apologise for his behaviour – he wouldn’t! His son could die, and it was all because of his own people!

Two days had passed and Yujin had not left Chini’s side. The night was beginning to creep in and he had not even spared himself the chance to eat something since early hours. Hunger was the last thing on his mind; he would rather wait for that antidote to be made before he could look after himself. It was hardly like someone else was going to take over.

Yujin sat beside Chini’s bed, narrowing his eyes as the room was filled with orange light from the setting sun. He watched the heartbeats pulsing on the monitor screen. Chini was calm and his pulse was slow. There was nothing of obvious concern asides his blood results. There was an infection, Yujin just could not combat it no matter what treatment he tried.

A creak came from his left and Yujin turned his stiff neck to meet Tsumi running towards him. She hugged his knee and he instinctively reached down to ruffle her hair before looking up to the door where Hokori stood.

“What can I do for you?” Yujin greeted with a small nod. Out of all the councilmen, Hokori was the only one Yujin could stand.

“I need you to watch her for a minute while I find Senbo, if you have no objection? I would have left her with Okui, but she seems to prefer your company.”

“It’s fine.” Yujin reached out, pulling Tsumi onto his lap. “You can’t find Senbo? He’s been in the lab working on an antidote for forty-eight hours straight now, right?”

“Yes, well, he usually comes up for air around the evening for dinner before pulling his all-nighter. I shall go see what is keeping him. Besides, Tsumi is so prone to breaking things; she shall only be a bull in a china shop down there.” Hokori mused, his foxy eyes narrowing from the setting sun. When he looked to Chini, he forced a smile. “Senbo is quite accurate when it comes to his sciences. I am more than certain he shall have an antidote and Chini will be up and about in no time to cause havoc.”

The comment was a playful one; a simple end to the conversation before he spun on his heel and journeyed to the laboratory. He had a habit of keeping to himself and only going out of his way to interact with others when absolutely necessary. It made things easier when he wanted to get somewhere without being stopped for conversation – like now. He jogged down the cellar stairs and into the grim corridor, reaching the lab’s level and forced his strides to a stop.

It was dark; not even the lights turned on upon his arrival as they so often would. He dared to wonder if Senbo had retired early and had put his all-nighters on hold until he caught up on sleep. Would he really dare to do that when Yokubo was waiting for an antidote? Not even Senbo was that devious. Hokori could only sigh, turning to move back up the stairs when a pang of warning struck his chest. Something told him he was not alone in the dark.

His ears strained enough to make out the faint sound of something dripping, like a broken faucet. He could only turn back towards the blacked-out lab and began to move towards it. His hand reached for the doorframe and he peered inside. There was no light on, no glimmer. With no windows or mirrors, he could not see anything. That dripping sound only got louder as he stepped inside and he reached out, long fingers stroking the wall until he found the light switch and flicked it on.

The lights above flickered rapidly as they always would before settling. All Hokori could see were flashes of red before everything came to life and he stared in horror. There were papers and folders scattered about the place, vials and samples were shattered. Their contents were pooling on the floor or staining the desks. The fridges had been smashed and glass was layered across the floor – and laying in the middle of it all was Senbo, covered in blood. He lay on his back, arms, and legs limp at his side. His neck was exposed, gaping with a wide ugly cut that poured blood across his chest and the glossy tiles beneath him. His arctic eyes no longer held their usual spark, instead they were dull as they stared up at the ceiling, unmoving. But he was breathing.

“Senbo-!” Hokori moved, sliding to the floor. His large hand enclosed around the man’s gaping neck, reducing the blood loss to the best of his abilities without choking the life from him. Hokori raised his free hand, shaking to cup the man’s face and staining his pale cheek with traces of red. “Fuck, Senbo. Senbo? Can you hear me? Shit!

“….H….kori…” Senbo gasped, choking on his own words. His mouth filled with blood and he coughed, splattering Hokori’s shirt. He inhaled deeply, eyes wide in his struggle.

“Please, do not speak, little one. Just stay awake. All will be well-” As Hokori spoke, he watched Senbo’s eyes grow heavy. “Stay awake!”

Senbo had tried to do as asked, but he felt his eyeballs roll and shut his eyelids. Not even the tapping of Hokori’s shaking fingers against his cheek could keep him awake.

“Senbo?” Hokori whispered, leaning forward as if the response was too quiet to hear. But there was nothing. “Senbo!

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